A. E. Housman, was an English classical scholar and poet, best known to the general public for his cycle of poems Housman was counted one of the foremost classicists of his age, and has been ranked as one of the greatest scholars of all time He established his reputation publishing as a private scholar and, on the strength and quality of his work, was appointed Professor of Latin at University College London and later, at Cambridge.

To An Athlete Dying young is one of the most well-known poems pertaining to early death. Published in the period between the two Boer Wars, the poem gained even more popularity during World War I, as many saw it as a poignant lament for the lost generation of so many bright, young men, cut down in their prime. In this poem Housman used many different literary devices such as, rhyme, imagery, and mood. Being that he used these devices it help the readers create the setting and image of the poem in their minds. After analyzing the poem, readers can assume that the main theme of the poem is glory does not last long. Readers can assume this because throughout the poem Housman mentions an athlete should not brag about their accomplishments. They should not brag about their accomplishment because there is always another athlete trying to beat their accomplishment.

The first tone in the poem is dull. This is the first tone because in the athlete has died young. Second tone in the poem is satisfaction. There is a sense of satisfaction because the athlete has accomplished a certain goal he or she wanted. Also since the athlete has died young, they will always be remembered for accomplishing this goal.

“To an Athlete Dying Young” is definitely a thought provoking poem that allows the readers to think about the meaning of life and death. Housman achieves this by using form and rhyme scheme, sound, and figurative languages such as metaphors and similes. The poem has seven stanzas and each stanza consists of two pairs of end-rhyming lines. This form is known as a couplet, an alternating rhyme scheme ABAB. For example, “race” and “place” rhyme in first two lines and “by” and “high” rhyme in last two lines of the first stanza. The couplet theme used throughout the poem adds rhythm as well as a sense of repetition, which not only keeps the poem interesting to read, but also reinforces the idea of death.


When I fist began reading this poem my first thought was that It was about an athlete who may was great at a certain sport an event may occurred in his/her life and instead of actually “dying” but he/she may have just lost the fire or ambition towards that certain sport.


After really reading this poem and analyzing it I realized that my personal interpretation was completely wrong. The poem is about an athlete who dies young. The athlete accomplishes a goal then is told not to brag about accomplishing it. He or she is told not to brag because glory fades because other athletes are always accomplishing greater goals.

In conclusion this poem is one that makes the reader realize just how short life is and how important it is to live life to its fullest. The tone of the poem is slightly melancholy in the fact that it was written to mourn the loss of a great athlete, but it is also happy in the sense that it is meant to celebrate the life of the athlete


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